Posts Tagged ‘ballistic missiles’

In North Korea, Missile Bases Suggest a Great Deception

November 12, 2018

North Korea is moving ahead with its ballistic missile program at 16 hidden bases that have been identified in new commercial satellite images, a network long known to American intelligence agencies but left undiscussed as President Trump claims to have neutralized the North’s nuclear threat.

The satellite images suggest that the North has been engaged in a great deception: It has offered to dismantle a major launching site — a step it began, then halted — while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others that would bolster launches of conventional and nuclear warheads.

Kim Jong-un
Kim Jong-un is thought to be under pressure as a young leader. GETTY IMAGES

The existence of the ballistic missile bases, which North Korea has never acknowledged, contradicts Mr. Trump’s assertion that his landmark diplomacy is leading to the elimination of a nuclear and missile program that the North had warned could devastate the United States.

“We are in no rush,” Mr. Trump said of talks with the North at a news conference on Wednesday, after Republicans lost control of the House. “The sanctions are on. The missiles have stopped. The rockets have stopped. The hostages are home.”

By  David E. Sanger and William J. Broad
The New York Times

A satellite image of a secret North Korean ballistic missile base. The North has offered to dismantle a different major missile launching site while continuing to make improvements at more than a dozen others. Credit  CSIS/Beyond Parallel, via DigitalGlobe 2018

His statement was true in just one sense. Mr. Trump appeared to be referring to the halt of missile flight tests, which have not occurred in nearly a year. But American intelligence officials say that the North’s production of nuclear material, of new nuclear weapons and of missiles that can be placed on mobile launchers and hidden in mountains at the secret bases has continued.

And the sanctions are collapsing, in part because North Korea has leveraged its new, softer-sounding relationship with Washington, and its stated commitment to eventual denuclearization, to resume trade with Russia and China.

Moreover, an American program to track those mobile missiles with a new generation of small, inexpensive satellites, disclosed by The New York Times more than a year ago, is stalled. The Pentagon once hoped to have the first satellites over North Korea by now, giving it early warning if the mobile missiles are rolled out of mountain tunnels and prepared for launch.

But because of a series of budget and bureaucratic disputes, the early warning system, begun by the Obama administration and handed off to the Trump administration, has yet to go into operation. Current and former officials, who said they could not publicly discuss the program because it is heavily classified, said there was still hope of launching the satellites, but they offered no timeline.

The secret ballistic missile bases were identified in a detailed study published Monday by the Beyond Parallel program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a major think tank in Washington.

The existence of a series of ballistic missile bases contradicts President Trump’s assertion that his diplomacy with North Korea is leading to the elimination of its nuclear and missile program. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

The program, which focuses on the prospects of North-South integration, is led by Victor Cha, a prominent North Korea expert whom the Trump administration considered appointing as the ambassador to South Korea last year. His name was pulled back when he objected to the White House strategy for dealing with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader.

A State Department spokesman responded to the findings with a written statement suggesting that the government believed the sites must be dismantled: “President Trump has made clear that should Chairman Kim follow through on his commitments, including complete denuclearization and the elimination of ballistic missile programs, a much brighter future lies ahead for North Korea and its people.” A spokesman for the C.I.A. declined to comment.

The revelation of the bases comes as Mr. Trump’s signature piece of diplomacy, based on his meeting exactly five months ago with Mr. Kim, appears in peril. Publicly, Mr. Trump remains relentlessly optimistic, to the point that he said at a campaign rally that he and Mr. Kim, one of the world’s most brutal dictators, “fell in love.” But last week, talks with the North hit another snag, as it declared that it would not send its chief negotiator to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in New York to plan the next summit meeting.

Since the initial meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Kim, on June 12 in Singapore, the North has yet to take the first step toward denuclearization: providing the United States with a list of its nuclear sites, weapons, production facilities and missile bases. North Korean officials have told Mr. Pompeo that would amount to giving him a “target list.”

American officials have responded that they already have a detailed target list — one that goes back decades — but want to use the North’s accounting to determine whether it is revealing all the known facilities and moving honestly toward denuclearization.

The new satellite imagery suggests the opposite.

“It’s not like these bases have been frozen,” Mr. Cha, the leader of the team that studied the images, said in an interview. “Work is continuing. What everybody is worried about is that Trump is going to accept a bad deal — they give us a single test site and dismantle a few other things, and in return they get a peace agreement” that formally ends the Korean War.

Mr. Trump, he said, “would then declare victory, say he got more than any other American president ever got, and the threat would still be there.”

The North Korea experts who have examined the images believe that the North’s motivations are fairly easy to interpret. “It looks like they’re trying to maximize their capabilities,” Joseph S. Bermudez Jr., a co-author of the report and a veteran analyst of satellite images of North Korea, said in an interview. “Any missile at these bases can take a nuclear warhead.”

“The level of effort that North Korea has invested in building these bases and dispersing them is impressive,” he added. “It’s very logical from a survival point of view.”

Weapons experts, as well as Mr. Pompeo, say that North Korea, despite engaging in denuclearization talks, continues to produce the fissile material that fuels nuclear arms. The North is believed to have about 40 to 60 nuclear warheads.

The new report profiles a missile base known as Sakkanmol, a little more than 50 miles north of the Demilitarized Zone. It is one of the closest to South Korea. Seoul, the capital, is about 80 miles away, as are American troops.

Image

Support facilities within the base, which is a little more than 50 miles north of the Demilitarized Zone. Credit CSIS/Beyond Parallel, via DigitalGlobe 2018

The report contains a dozen or so satellite images of Sakkanmol — each heavily annotated to show the base checkpoint, headquarters buildings, barracks, security areas, maintenance depots and the entrances to the warrens of underground tunnels that hide mobile missiles and their transporter trucks.

 

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‘Hezbollah needs to be eliminated,’ UAE tycoon Al-Habtoor tells Arab-US policymakers conference

November 4, 2018

The world needs to take firm action against Iran, targeting the leadership of Hezbollah, the UAE business tycoon Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor said at a conference of global leaders on the eve of new sanctions due to be imposed on Iran.

Speaking at the 27th Annual Arab-US Policymakers Conference in Washington DC, Al-Habtoor told global leaders that economic sanctions “rarely work,” and added that they were “too little, too late.”

“I have to wonder why economic sanctions are the ‘go-to mechanism’ to punish countries that do not fall in line. They rarely work,” he said.

UAE business tycoon Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor tells global leaders conference that he is not against the Iranian people. (Image supplied)

“Yes, they have been cited as bringing North Korea to the table,” Al-Habtoor added. “However, sanctioning Iran has not changed its aggressive behavior towards its neighbors. Just the opposite. Tehran is more vocal than ever in its support of terrorism and hostility of the West.

“The US Foreign Ministry tweeted that since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Iran has led terrorist attacks and assassinations in more than 20 countries worldwide.”

Al-Habtoor said he was not supporting a war against Iran, but instead suggested Iran’s support for global terrorism could be stopped by eliminating Hezbollah.

“As for the Iranian regime’s support of terrorism, it can be stopped by eliminating its global terrorist arm Hezbollah and also by empowering the Iranian minorities who are continuously abused and crushed by the Revolutionary Guard.”

“Hezbollah’s criminal activities have spread out from Lebanon to Iraq, Syria, Yemen, South America and elsewhere, even the United States. Its leadership’s hideout is no secret given Western intelligence capabilities. Israel can pinpoint their whereabouts. What are you waiting for?” he concluded.

This is Al-Habtoor’s speech in full:

My condolences to the American people on the loss of the victims in the attacks on the synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. May God bless their souls!

It is a pleasure to be in Washington DC again among you. I appreciate the opportunity to exchange views and gain fresh perspectives in this great city.

This is the place where decisions are made impacting not only the United States of America but also the entire world.

We live in a time of great political and economic uncertainty. The future can no longer be predicted. Fundamental principles and values that have existed since the end of the Second World War are being overturned. Old alliances are being weakened. We are in unchartered waters. Frankly, I am worried! ‘America First’ is a slogan that inspires patriotism. Every nation has to put the interests of its people first. That is normal. However, actions taken by this administration under that slogan are alienating America’s friends.

No country is an island by itself. We share one planet. We are all responsible for finding solutions to common threats. We need to be partners in the decision-making.

We must mend broken countries in the Middle East and Africa so that refugees and economic migrants can go home to find safety and opportunity. Doing so will end the fears of people in host countries, among them Americans, who feel swamped by foreign immigrants.

Working together we can create a better world for all, trying to address important issues! Sadly, that is not happening! It is every country for itself.

I traveled from my country, the United Arab Emirates, on my way to Washington DC almost 15 days ago when the news was completely consumed by the disappearance of Saudi national Jamal Khashoggi.

I was shocked that even while the Saudi citizen’s disappearance was still under investigation, the international media, analysts and Washington lawmakers acted as prosecutor, judge and jury. Fingers were being pointed at the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and his Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The CEOs of major international companies pulled out of Saudi Arabia’s Investment Conference based purely on unproven allegations. It was a big mistake. They were the losers. ‘Davos in the Desert’ was well attended. Those who turned their backs to Saudi gifted their opportunities to Russia, China and Europe.

The truth about Khashoggi’s murder is out. The criminals will be tried and will receive fitting punishment. I am astonished that American lawmakers and media still call upon the United States to impose sanctions against Saudi Arabia willing to damage a trusted seven-decades-long relationship. This is madness!

Let me remind you that Saudi Arabia is a leader in Interreligious Dialogue for Peace.

In partnership with the United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom has been leading states in the use of soft power and security. We have been setting up institutions that raise awareness about extremist ideologies, and initiating dialogues between different societies.

While governments around the world search for a global strategy to uproot the ideology of violent extremism, in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, we have been doing just that for many years. Sadly, certain countries provide those creatures with sanctuary.

I urge US leaders to respect the Kingdom’s sovereignty. The law must take its course. America needs Saudi Arabia in the fight against terrorism. America needs Saudi Arabia to help contain Iran. America needs Saudi investments and purchases that create jobs. Let us focus on what is important!

Last week, on the 35th anniversary of the attack on US Marines in Beirut, President Donald Trump signed new sanctions targeting Iran’s proxy Hezbollah.

President Trump referred to them as “the highest sanctions ever imposed on Hezbollah.” Too little, too late!

I have to wonder why economic sanctions are the ‘go-to mechanism’ to punish countries that do not fall in line. They rarely work!

Yes, they have been cited as bringing North Korea to the table. However, sanctioning Iran has not changed its aggressive behavior towards its neighbors. Just the opposite! Tehran is more vocal than ever in its support of terrorism and hostility of the West.

The US Foreign Ministry tweeted that since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, Iran has led terrorist attacks and assassinations in more than 20 countries worldwide.

Two years ago, I stood before you and appealed to you to act against the biggest threats facing our world. Then as now, I addressed the lack of action taken by the US in putting a stop to terrorism’s biggest sponsor, Iran.

I asked why nothing has been done to curb the destructive activities of Tehran’s Revolutionary Guards, Shiite militias, and Hezbollah that suffocates beautiful Lebanon and is partnering with Syria’s butcher.

In the time of President Saddam Hussein, Iraq stood as a shield for the world against the evils of the ayatollahs. America’s invasion of the Cradle of Civilization based on false intelligence weakened Baghdad, gave Iran a free hand and fuelled the rise of Hezbollah. Today, Iran poses an increasing threat to the whole world, not only the Middle East.

Over the past decade America has had two presidents with polar opposite foreign policies on a range of issues. Yet when it comes to dealing with the threats posed by Iran, nothing changes. President Obama was soft on Iran. President Trump talks a good talk but hesitates to walk in a meaningful fashion.

President Donald Trump criticized Iran’s corrupt dictatorship last month at the United Nations General Assembly. His administration issued new economic sanctions against Iran and Hezbollah earlier this month. But these steps are not sufficient! They will not hurt. Russia, China and Europe are not on board. We need real action!

Please do not imagine I am calling for war; far from it! We have nothing against the Iranian people. Iranians are good people. We have traded and socialized with them. We have welcomed them in our country. They are a poor people, an oppressed people with little freedom; they live in fear. They should be empowered by all means to rewrite their own future.

As for the Iranian regime’s support of terrorism, it can be stopped by eliminating its global terrorist arm Hezbollah and also by empowering the Iranian minorities who are continuously abused and crushed by the Revolutionary Guard, in particular the occupied Ahwazi people living in extreme poverty and stripped of their basic human right to freely practice their religion.

Hezbollah’s criminal activities have spread out from Lebanon to Iraq, Syria, Yemen, South America and elsewhere, even the United States. Its leadership’s hideout is no secret given Western intelligence capabilities. Israel can pinpoint their whereabouts. What are you waiting for?

The patience with which Iran is dealt with surprises me. Why are the United States and its Western allies so patient with Iran? Do they hope that Iran is the Prodigal Son who will one day return to the West’s arms and repent? That is a pipe dream. Iran’s defiance of the United States and the civilized world will never cease.

It is time the world took real action to terminate this threat to the peaceful future of our children, once and for all!

Thank you.

Arab News

Includes video:

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1399031/middle-east

Trump Digs In for a Long, Cold War With Iran

November 4, 2018

Image result for Iran, oil, photos

Sanctions aim to ‘force’ a regime determined to resist

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Iran has vowed to resist punishing economic sanctions planned by the U.S. to compel Tehran to pull back from its Mideast posture. Above, the grand bazaar in Tehran.
Iran has vowed to resist punishing economic sanctions planned by the U.S. to compel Tehran to pull back from its Mideast posture. Above, the grand bazaar in Tehran. Photo: atta kenare/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

President Trump has put Iran on notice that the punishing sanctions he plans to impose on Monday are just the opening salvo of an ambitious strategy to compel Tehran to pull back from its assertive posture in the Middle East or risk collapse.

“Our objective is to force the regime into a clear choice: either abandon its destructive behavior or continue down the path toward economic disaster,” Mr. Trump said in a statement Friday night.

The guiding assumption behind the administration’s policy is that Iran is economically weak, has little interest in a military confrontation with the U.S.—and that Washington can force changes in decadeslong Iranian behavior that will reconfigure the Middle East, officials and experts say.

But senior Iranian officials insist Tehran will neither retrench nor negotiate. Former U.S. officials with long experience say Tehran has cards to play, including trying to ride out the sanctions in the hope that Mr. Trump is a one-term president and taking advantage of the continued turmoil in the region to stir up fresh challenges for the U.S. and its allies.

“Iran is gaining ground in the region, and I don’t see these sanctions as reversing that,” said Jeffrey Feltman, who was the top State Department official on Middle East issues from 2009 to 2012 and later served as a United Nations undersecretary general for political affairs.

An early test of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign will come in Syria. The White House has sought Russian President Vladimir Putin’s help in prodding Iranian forces and the Shiite militias Tehran backs to leave the country—so far, without success.

Administration officials are now calculating that draconian economic measures can prompt Iran to declare its military mission accomplished in Syria and bring its forces home. To drive home the point, U.S. officials have released figures asserting that Iran’s annual tab for sustaining its Lebanese ally Hezbollah is about $700 million, while Tehran has spent at least $16 billion in recent years supporting its allies in Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Some former U.S. officials say, however, that Iran’s support for the Assad regime and Hezbollah are top priorities Tehran will attempt to sustain at all cost.

“They are heavily invested in Syria, and the IRGC is not going anywhere soon,” said Ryan Crocker, the veteran U.S. diplomat, referring to Iran’s paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps

In a meeting last month with Wall Street Journal reporters and editors, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif portrayed Iran’s military presence in Syria as defensive and disputed the notion that its forces should withdraw.

“We believe that if we do not fight ISIS in Syria and Iraq, we will have to fight it in Iran,” Mr. Zarif said. “Our people recognize that.”

Oppressive regimes cannot endure forever and the day will come when the people will face a choice. Will they continue down the path of poverty, bloodshed and terror, or will the Iranian people return to the nation’s proud roots as a center of civilization, culture and wealth, where their people can be happy and prosperous?

—President Trump at the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 19, 2017

Iran’s nuclear activities are another area where the Trump administration’s strategy will be tested.

Iran has rebuffed U.S. demands that it accept constraints on its nuclear program that are far more stringent than those imposed by the 2015 accord negotiated by the Obama administration and disowned by Mr. Trump. At the same time, Iran has acceded to European appeals that it stick with the 2015 agreement, which Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China are trying to preserve.

But Mr. Zarif signaled that Tehran might relax its adherence to that accord if economic benefits it still expects to achieve from the agreement aren’t forthcoming.

“We have the possibility of a partial reduction of our commitment,” Mr. Zarif said. “We will have to make that decision when the time comes.”

Such a move could add to the strains between Europe and Washington over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear capability.

“Their strategy as of now is the expectation that Trump will be weakened by the midterm elections and won’t be re-elected in 2020, essentially a wait-and-see approach,” said Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a nonpartisan think tank.

“But their economy is in bad shape, and the trend lines are only going to worsen,” he added. “They may soon conclude they have more leverage by reconstituting their nuclear activities—not by going from 0 to 100 but from 0 to 20.”

In an effort to persuade Iran to stick with the 2015 accord, the European Union is moving toward establishing a special payment channel to maintain economic ties with Iran. But Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Friday he didn’t expect the channel to be effective in the face of U.S. pressure.

Iran also is expected to reactivate its long-developed capacity for evading sanctions, seeking to dodge the economic bullets coming from Washington. But the Trump administration has vowed to crack down.

In an August tweet, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei asserted that Iran wouldn’t challenge the U.S. militarily. “THERE WILL BE NO WAR, NOR WILL WE NEGOTIATE WITH THE U.S.” he wrote.

Despite the ayatollah’s declaration, some experts believe there is a risk the regime might lash out—perhaps though regional proxies or covert operations that Tehran would publicly deny—in response to the intensifying economic pressure and calls by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for Iranians to “restore democracy.”

“Anybody remember Beirut 1983?” said Mr. Crocker, referring to the bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. “They can find a way to make life rough for us.”

Iran trained and equipped Shiite militias that attacked U.S. forces during the Iraq war. So far, those militias have refrained from attacking the U.S. military advisers who returned to Iraq for the campaign against Islamic State. But the State Department said in September it was closing the U.S. consulate in Basra, citing security risks from Iranian-backed forces.

Even staunch supporters of the administration’s Iran policy acknowledge the risks.

“The administration has invested enormous energy into tightening the sanctions noose as tight as possible,” said John Hannah, who served as an adviser to former Vice President Dick Cheney and is now a senior counselor at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, which has urged the administration to impose tough sanctions on Iran.

“I hope they’ve spent as much time planning for all the ways Iran could use terrorism, proxies and cyberweapons to disrupt oil markets, destabilize our allies, and attack U.S. interests,” he added.

The 12 demands issued to Iran by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on May 21

  • 1. Iran must provide a full accounting of its previous nuclear weapons research and abandon such work forever.
  • 2. Iran must stop enriching uranium, never pursue plutonium reprocessing and close its heavy-water reactor.
  • 3. Iran must give unqualified access to the International Atomic Energy Agency to all sites in the country.
  • 4. Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and stop developing missiles that can carry nuclear weapons.
  • 5. Iran must release all U.S. citizens and those of U.S. allies and partners.
  • 6. Iran must end support to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other Middle East “terrorist” groups.
  • 7. Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and permit the demobilization and reintegration of Shia militias.
  • 8. Iran must end its military support for the Houthi insurgency and work toward a political settlement in Yemen.
  • 9. Iran must withdraw all forces in Syria under Iranian command.
  • 10. Iran must end support for the Taliban and cease harboring al Qaeda leaders.
  • 11. Iran must end the support for terrorists and militant partners by its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
  • 12. Iran must end its threats against Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other neighbors.
  • (Source: U.S. State Department)

Write to Michael R. Gordon at michael.gordon@wsj.com

Britain to sell China ‘unlimited’ amount of military radar equipment, technology

November 1, 2018
  • Special export licence approved in April, just weeks after British Prime Minister Theresa May visited Beijing
  • Move comes amid closer exchanges between top radar scientists from China, Britain
South China Morning Post
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PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 5:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2018, 5:56pm
Related image

 

A British defence company has been given the green light to supply an unlimited quantity of goods to China’s military, including airborne radar technology likely to be used by the PLA Air Force.

Although the supplier has not been named, the “open individual export licence” (OIEL) has been in place since April – two months after British Prime Minister Theresa May visited Beijing – according to information from Britain’s Department for International Trade.

Image result for J-15 fighter jets, photos

Unlike previous deals involving British arms sales to China, which were capped by amount and value, under the new agreement the supplier can “export an unlimited quantity of goods”, including equipment, components, software and technology for military radar systems, the department said.

Its strategic export control database described the equipment covered by the licence as “target acquisition, weapon control and countermeasure systems” for “aircraft, helicopters and drones”.

“It’s potentially a big licence, and it does say the end user is the air force,” said Andrew Smith, a spokesman for the London-based NGO Campaign Against Arms Trade.

While open individual export licences usually remain valid for between five and 10 years, “the values are never published, so the figure could be very high”, Smith said.

But Britain is not the only European country that sells military equipment to China.

“Almost all the other big arms exporters do exactly the same,” Smith said.

The trade department declined to comment on the deal.

While Britain remains a close ally of the United States, the deal suggests London is prepared to deal with China despite the ongoing trade and strategic tussles between Beijing and Washington.

Li Bin, a senior fellow working jointly in the Nuclear Policy Programme and Asia Programme at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said Britain was facing many challenges at home and abroad due to its pending departure from the European Union.

While many companies, including financial firms in London, are considering reallocating to mainland Europe, China last year doubled its direct investment in Britain to more than US$20 billion.

Against that backdrop, Britain seemed keen to do more business with China, Li said.

And while Washington might not like the radar deal, it might not be able to stop it, he said.

The export licence is not the only connection Britain has with China on radar systems.

Last month, Professor Hugh Griffiths, one of Britain’s top radar scientists and chairman of the Defence Science Expert Committee at the Ministry of Defence, was officially recognised by Beijing for his contribution to the advancement of Chinese radar technology.

Wu Jianqi, chief designer of China’s first anti-stealth aircraft radar system, presented Griffiths with an “Outstanding Award for Chinese Radar International Development” in front of more than 700 Chinese scientists at a conference in Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu province, according to information on official websites.

Griffiths, who has been a regular visitor to China since the 1980s, did not respond to requests for comment.

Meanwhile, David Stupples, a British professor of electronic and radio systems at City, University of London, whose research focuses on electronic intelligence and warfare, said he had been invited to lecture at the technical institute associated with intelligence services in China.

“China has made tremendous progress in radar design over the past 10 years and must be considered in the [world’s] top 10,” he said.

In space-based radar systems, for instance, China has shown “expertise and ingenuity”, but for maritime and airborne applications, “the UK is marginally ahead”, Stupples said.

Britain was also ahead on designing complete intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems, although the Chinese military’s “individual components are first rate”, he said.

Cao Yunhe, an award-winning military radar scientist at Xidian University in Xian, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi province, said the export licence was good news for China’s military strength and radar research.

“If they are willing to sell we are willing to buy,” he said. “We want to know how their systems operate. It will help us improve our own design,” he said.

However, it was unlikely the technology and equipment being sold by Britain would be its most advanced.

“There will always be some restrictions. If not on quantity, then on quality,” he said.

Wang Tong, who is also from Xidian University and works on radar systems for China’s military aircraft and satellites, said the exchanges between Chinese and British experts would not go “too deep”.

Britain shares a lot of intelligence with the US, so China could not possibly allow British experts to get directly involved in its military radar programmes, he said,

“Sharing information about models and specifications is strictly prohibited. I believe both sides are fully aware of the consequences,” Wang said.

“Most of the time people are just talking about physics, mathematical models and new theories.”

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2171242/britain-sell-china-unlimited-amount-military-radar-equipment

North Korea readies nuclear, missile sites for international inspectors

October 31, 2018

South Korea’s spy agency has observed preparations by North Korea for international inspections at several of its nuclear and missile test sites, the Yonhap news agency said on Wednesday, citing a South Korean lawmaker.

Kim Min-ki of the ruling Democratic Party told reporters that intelligence officials had observed what they believed to be preparations for possible inspections at Punggye-ri nuclear test site and the Sohae Satellite launching ground.

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The South’s National Intelligence Service observed North Koreans “conducting preparation and intelligence activities that seem to be in preparation for foreign inspectors’ visit,” the lawmaker added, but no major movements were seen at Yongbyon.

Yongbyon is the North’s main nuclear complex.

North Korea has stopped nuclear and missile tests in the past year, but it did not allow international inspections of its dismantling of Punggye-ri in May, drawing criticism that the action was merely for show and could be reversed.

Image result for North Korea, nuclear, photos

In September, its leader Kim Jong Un pledged at a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in to also close Sohae and allow experts to observe the dismantling of the missile engine testing site and a launch pad.

At the time, Moon said North Korea agreed to let international inspectors observe a “permanent dismantlement” of key missile facilities, and take further steps, such as closing Yongbyon, in return for reciprocal moves by the United States.

Washington has demanded steps such as a full disclosure of the North’s nuclear and missile facilities, before agreeing to Pyongyang’s key goals, including an easing of international sanctions and an official end to the Korean War.

American officials have been skeptical of Kim’s commitment to giving up nuclear weapons, but the North’s pledge at the summit with the South drew an enthusiastic response from President Donald Trump.

Reporting by Josh Smith; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Reuters

U.S. launching new missile defense command in Japan

October 29, 2018

U.S. forces in Japan are set to establish a new command for the U.S. Army’s ballistic missile defense unit in the Asian country and have started stationing personnel, it has been learned.

The move is apparently aimed at countering threats from North Korea, which still holds ballistic missiles, as well as from China, which is moving to deploy missiles capable of reaching the U.S. mainland and U.S. military bases in Japan.

A ceremony to mark the formation of the new command at the Army’s Sagami General Depot in the city of Sagamihara, Kanagawa Prefecture, will take place shortly.

According to sources in the Japanese Defense Ministry and U.S. forces in Japan, the personnel for the new command belong to the U.S. military’s 38th air defense artillery brigade. They began activities in Japan on Oct. 16.

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Aegis Ashore

The new command will likely be in charge of directing operations of the Army’s X-band radar units deployed in the city of Tsugaru in Aomori Prefecture, and the city of Kyotango in Kyoto Prefecture.

A total of 115 personnel will be deployed to the command in stages in six to 12 months. They will use existing facilities, instead of bringing new equipment.

According to officials of U.S. forces in Japan, the new command will come under the control of the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command in Hawaii.

By setting up the new front-line command in Japan, the United States apparently aims to be ready for making quicker decisions to intercept missiles while signaling its determination to thwart threats from North Korea and China.

The command is expected to work with a cutting-edge Aegis destroyer of the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet that is deployed to the Yokosuka base in Kanagawa.

It may also share information with Self-Defense Forces units that will operate the Aegis Ashore land-based missile defense system planned to be deployed by the Defense Ministry in Akita and Yamaguchi prefectures.

The launch of the command is unconnected with the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan.

The Defense Ministry notified the Sagamihara Municipal Government on Sept. 28 of the planned creation of the new ballistic missile defense command and personnel stationing.

A Sagamihara municipal official said, “It’s very regrettable that the notification was made suddenly without prior consultations.

“It’s questionable that such a command will be set up at the Sagami General Depot, which is in charge of logistics for the U.S. Army,” the official said, adding that the city will seek detailed explanations from the Defense Ministry and the Foreign Ministry.

A Defense Ministry official said, “In light of promoting quick reaction capability, the command will help strengthen the deterrent power and coping abilities of the Japan-U.S. alliance, and contribute to Japan’s national defense and the stability in the Asia-Pacific region.”

“We’ll provide as much information about the command as we can,” the official added.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/10/29/national/u-s-launching-new-missile-defense-command-japan/#.W9a_L5NKhaQ

John Bolton says there is no way to salvage nuclear weapons treaty

October 24, 2018

National Security Adviser John Bolton said Tuesday there was no chance the Trump administration would reverse its decision to withdraw from a landmark nuclear weapons accord – despite hearing directly from President Vladimir Putin about Russia’s concerns with the move.

After a 90-minute meeting with Putin, Bolton renewed U.S. accusations that Russia is violating the treaty and suggested it would be a waste of time to try to persuade the Kremlin to comply. Bolton suggested the treaty was outmoded anyway.

“There’s a new strategic reality out there,” Bolton said. “This is a cold war bilateral ballistic-missile-related treaty – in a multipolar ballistic-missile world.”

The Latest: Bolton: Russia hurt itself meddling in US vote
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. National security adviser John Bolton during their meeting in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) (Alexander Zemlianichenko)

In an interview with a Moscow reporter, Bolton was asked what Russia would have to do to get the U.S. to reconsider. He said only if China and Russia gave up all their intermediate-range missiles would President Donald Trump think twice about his decision.

“If Russia were to dismantle all of its equipment in violation of the treaty and China did the same, that that would be a different circumstance,” Bolton told Kommersat. “I think there’s zero chance of that happening.”

Russia has denied allegations that it is violating the treaty, which the Obama administration also leveled.

On Tuesday, Putin expressed dismay at the U.S. announcement. Referring to the Great Seal of the United States – which features a bald eagle with 13 arrows in one talon and 13 olives in the other – Putin joked that the U.S. seemed to only have arrows left.

 “I have a question: Has your eagle picked all the olives and only has arrows left?” Putin asked Bolton during their meeting in Moscow, according to the Associated Press and other media accounts.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was more serious in discussing the matter, saying the U.S. position was “risky” and lamenting the lack of any effort to craft a new treaty.

“Ruining the treaty in a situation where even hints at concluding a new one do not exist is something that we do not welcome,” Peskov said, according to Russia’s state-run Tass news agency.

“For now, there are no prospects for the emergence of a new document,” he said. “Quitting the agreement first and then discussing the hypothetical, ephemeral possibility of concluding a new treaty is a pretty risky stance.”

At issue is the INF Treaty, signed in 1987 by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. It required the U.S. and Russia to destroy ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between approximately 310 and 3,400 miles, along with supporting equipment.

Bolton rejected suggestions the U.S. withdraw could spark a new nuclear arms race. And he sidestepped questions about whether the Trump administration would move to deploy missiles in Europe or elsewhere.

“I think we’re a long way from any decisions on those kinds of questions,” Bolton said. He noted the INF Treaty was only binding for the U.S. and Russia; and since Russia was violating the pact, Bolton said, “exactly one country was constrained by the INF Treaty: the United States.”

In the meantime, Bolton said, China, North Korea and Iran “are free to do whatever they want” and have made “very substantial strides” in developing intermediate range and missiles. But he downplayed the possibility that the treaty could be expanded to cover other countries, instead of jettisoned altogether.

European leaders have not disputed U.S. allegations of Russian cheating. But they’ve expressed concerns that Trump’s plan to nix the treaty will lead to a new nuclear arms race.

The INF treaty “contributed to the end of the cold-war and constitutes a pillar of European security architecture since it entered into force 30 years ago,” the EU said in a statement Monday. It noted that the treaty led to the elimination of nearly 3,000 missiles with nuclear and conventional warheads have been removed and verifiably destroyed and urged the U.S. and Russia to resolve its differences over the accord.

“The world doesn’t need a new arms race that would benefit no one and on the contrary would bring even more instability,” the EU statement says.

Trump may have fanned those fears on Monday, when he vowed to build up America’s nuclear arsenal in response to what he portrayed as a growing threat from Russia and China.

“Until people come to their senses, we will build it up,” Trump said in reference to U.S. nuclear weapons capacity. “We have more money than anybody else by far.”

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/10/23/bolton-putin-no-way-salvage-landmark-nuclear-weapons-treaty/1741463002/

Iran is jailing environmentalists, fearful that they’ve found pollution from possible nuclear and missile sites

October 16, 2018

On Oct. 8, Iran’s Revolutionary Court issued preliminary indictments against five environmentalists who had been arrested earlier this year. All five have been accused of using environmental projects as a cover to collect classified strategic information, a charge that can carry a death sentence.

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Within Iran’s academic circles, there exists a widespread opinion that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been locking up environmentalists because they have potential knowledge of the location of installations where radioactive isotopes and toxic chemicals may be contaminating the land.

To measure background radiation and chemical contamination of a certain area, one must walk through it with a radiation detector or take soil samples. This may explain paranoia of Iranian intelligence agents that have been detaining dozens of environmentalists and confiscating their electronic devices in various parts of the country. The map of the detentions gives a good idea of the locations of sensitive sites.

By Eugene M. Chudnovsky
Commentary
Washington Examiner

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Among the environmentalists facing execution or long prison terms is an American citizen Morad Tahbaz, graduate of Columbia University, co-founder of the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. Members of the Foundation have openly opposed installation of underground nuclear and missile launch facilities on protected lands. Its managing director, Canadian citizen Kavous Seyed-Emami, detained last January together with Morad Tahbaz and seven others, died in Evin prison after intense interrogations soon after his arrest.

Prior to his detention Seyed-Emami taught sociology at Imam Sadeq University in Tehran. According to his family, he was the happiest man on Earth. Authorities claimed that he committed suicide in his prison cell but denied the family’s request for independent autopsy. His widow was interrogated and banned from returning to Canada, her passport confiscated.

At about the same time, security forces briefly detained the deputy head of Iran’s Department of Environment, Kaveh Madani. A U.S.-educated scientist, recipient of international awards, Madani had been praised last year by the Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani as an example of the reversal of the brain drain from the country. Following his release after a three-day detention, Madani accepted a professor position at the Centre for Environmental Policy of the Imperial College in London and left Iran.

Numerous human rights and media organizations have come to the defense of the imprisoned environmentalists. Amnesty International has accused revolutionary guards of torturing prisoners and has demanded an independent investigation of professor Seyed-Emami’s death. Last April, 800 Iranian environmental scientists signed a letter to president Hassan Rouhani protesting the unlawful detention of their colleagues.

In response, Rouhani appointed an investigative panel of high-level government officials. Last May, the panel concluded that the accused environmentalists had not committed any crime. This, however, has not led to their release, indicating a struggle between the elected officials and the IRGC that report directly to the leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei.

The IRGC are de facto in charge of all cases believed to be related to the national security. Last August the Department of Environment was ordered to stop its efforts to prove that the environmentalists have not done anything wrong. A warning against “ meddling in judicial matters” has been issued to the DoE head Isa Kalantani.

The secrecy surrounding detention of the environmentalists leaves little doubt about its relation to military programs. The prisoners have been held incommunicado since January, no visits allowed. They have been asked to select attorneys from a pre-approved list of 20 names that did not include any human rights lawyers. With this requirement in place, no access of the accused to their attorneys has been permitted so far.

Once set in motion, the 21st century inquisition machine will not stop until the victims are crushed. The first indictments issued to the environmentalists this month open the way for trials by the Revolutionary Court — an arm of the IRGC — presided over by one of its “hanging judges.” This will be another shameful page in the history of the country known as the Cradle of Civilization.

Eugene M. Chudnovsky is a distinguished professor at the City University of New York and co-chair of the Committee of Concerned Scientists.

U.S., NATO Warn of Russian Submarine Threat: Russian sub activity in the North Atlantic has reached a 25-year high

October 7, 2018

Russian sub activity in the North Atlantic has reached a 25-year high

America’s most senior naval officer in Europe, Adm. James Foggo, said Friday that he was “concerned” about some of Russia’s newer and more advanced fleet of submarines.

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“Russia is not 10 feet tall but they do have assets that keep me vigilant, concerned. One of them is in the undersea domain,” Foggo, the commander of US Naval Forces Europe, told reporters at the Pentagon.
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While Foggo said Russia’s surface fleet, including its aging aircraft carrier, posed little threat — saying Moscow did “not have a robust capital ship capability” — he did express concerns about Russian advancements in its development of submarines and cruise missiles.
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“We’ve seen creation of new classes of all sorts of submarines and ships. I’m more concerned with submarine warfare,” Foggo said earlier on Friday while addressing the Atlantic Council in Washington.
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“Russians have produced the new Dolgorukiy-class submarine. They’ve produced the Severodvinsk-class submarine. They’ve produced the new Kilo hybrid-class submarines,” Foggo told reporters at the Pentagon.
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Borei Russian sub
Yury Dolgorukiy, the lead vessel of the Borei-class submarine Rubin Design Bureau. Follow-on subs are called Dolgorukiy-class submarines
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He said six of the Kilo-class subs were either “operating in the Black Sea or the eastern Mediterranean,” where “they’re firing the Kalibr missile,” a Russian-made cruise missile that he called “very capable,” saying it could reach “any one of the capitals of Europe.”
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“That’s a concern to me, and it’s a concern to my NATO partners and friends. So we should know where they are at all times,” he added, advocating for increased US and allied investment in anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
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Russian Kilo Class Submarines
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Foggo, who is also the commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command-Naples, also discussed the upcoming NATO exercise Trident Juncture, which is due to begin October 25 and will involve some 45,000 troops from all NATO members as well as Sweden and Finland.
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The exercise, which Foggo called NATO’s largest since 2002, will take place in Norway and the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea. It will include 150 aircraft, 60 ships and up to 10,000 vehicles.
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Foggo said Russia had been invited to observe the military exercise in accordance with international agreements and that the exercise would send a message of “deterrence” to any would-be adversary.
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NATO confirms German troops to spearhead ‘Trident Juncture’ exercises
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The remarkable ‘cat and mouse’ operation to stop Putin’s subs attacking our vital cables

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Britain and America fear Vladimir Putin is prepared to cause financial chaos by attacking undersea cables between the countries and are going to extraordinary lengths to track Russian submarines, The Telegraph can reveal.

US and UK military sources have told this newspaper that Russian sub activity in the North Atlantic has reached a 25-year high and there has been a return to “Cold War cat and mouse games” under the water.

Amid mounting tensions with the Kremlin, the allies are using an remarkable array of modern technology and military equipment to make sure they know exactly where the submarines are as they move around the region.

Satellites spot when the submarines leave naval bases and…

Read the rest (Paywall):

Pompeo pledges to coordinate with Japan in North Korea talks

October 6, 2018

US to also raise abduction issue during Pyongyang meeting with Kim

Pompeo in Japan to discuss North Korea en route to Pyongyang

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Abe’s office in Tokyo on Oct. 6.   © Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters)–U. S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Saturday he would coordinate closely with Japan during denuclearization talks with North Korea and promised to raise the issue of the abductions of Japanese citizens in his meetings in Pyongyang.

“We will have a fully coordinated, unified view of how to proceed, which will be what is needed if it is going to be successful in denuclearizing North Korea,” Pompeo told Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo. “We will bring up the issue of the abductees as well,” he said.

Abe thanked Pompeo, who arrived in Tokyo on Saturday, for coming to Japan before he meets North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un on Sunday.

Pompeo also said Japan and the United States were in a position to finalize a trade agreement after Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump discussed the issue in New York last month.

The two sides have agreed to start trade talks in an arrangement that, for now, protects Japanese automakers from further tariffs, seen as a major threat to the export-dependent economy. Trump is unhappy with Japan’s $69 billion trade surplus with the United States — nearly two-thirds of it from auto exports — and wants a bilateral agreement to address it.

Despite Kim’s pledge to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, Japan, Washington’s key ally in Asia, still considers North Korea to be a “dire threat,” and is pushing ahead with plans to bolster its ballistic missile defenses with Aegis Ashore batteries that can target warheads in space.

Tokyo also insists that North Korea give a full accounting of Japanese citizens it abducted to train as spies and return any who are still alive before it agrees to normalize ties. A restoration of ties could lead to Japan releasing what could be billions of dollars of war reparations and economic assistance to its impoverished neighbour.

Pompeo will travel to Seoul after leaving Pyongyang and will head to Beijing before returning to the United States on Monday.

Speaking to a pool reporter en route to Tokyo, Pompeo said his aim in Pyongyang was “to make sure we understand what each side is truly trying to achieve.” He also said he hoped to be able to agree a “general date and location” for a second summit between Trump and Kim following their first meeting in Singapore in June.

Pompeo’s last visit to North Korea failed to make progress with Pyongyang denouncing him for making “gangster-like demands.”

Recently, he angered North Korea by insisting that international sanctions must remain in place until it gives up its nuclear weapons. On Wednesday, he said there was unanimous support for this at last week’s U.N. General Assembly, even if Russia and China “had some ideas about how we might begin to think about a time when it would be appropriate to reduce them.”

He declined to say if he would agree to North Korea’s demand for a declaration to end the 1950-53 Korean War or to South Korea’s suggestion that he avoid pressing again for an inventory of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons to break the stalemate.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/Pompeo-pledges-to-coordinate-with-Japan-in-North-Korea-talks